FINANCE SECRETARY Carlos G. Dominguez III said he is looking forward to expanding the Philippines’ economic ties with China, citing the “synergy” to be realized from a closer “partnership,” while dismissing irritants to the bilateral relationship.

“Under the leadership of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, we have adopted a more forward-looking policy towards China. We understand the great synergy that will be generated by the closer partnership between our two countries,” Mr. Dominguez said in his keynote speech Monday during a forum in Manila attended by government officials and business leaders from China’s Chongqing Municipality.

Mr. Dominguez said the country’s relationship with China “has never been warmer,” noting that the Mainland was the Philippines’ biggest trading partner with total trade of $52 billion last year. Foreign direct investment from China also grew 185% to $634 million in 2018.

“We look forward to more partnerships at ground level, at the level of individual enterprises, and shared wealth-creation. The opportunities that unite us are far greater than the issues where we might have some differences,” he added.

Speaking to the Chinese delegates, Mr. Dominguez said the country offers a “rich field” of investment opportunity as well as “demographic sweet spot” with large numbers of educated young people entering the workforce.

He said the government’s aggressive infrastructure program, known as Build, Build, Build, will open investment opportunities as well as boost the economy despite the “challenging global environment.”

He said that China has given “key support” for some of the infrastructure program including dams, bridges, and railways through official development assistance, loans and grants.

“Investment in infrastructure will only yield value to the economy if they spur new business activity. Private-sector participation not only in our country’s Build, Build, Build program, but also in investments that will open up as a result of this should be highly considered by our Chinese investors,” he added.

In the agriculture and fisheries sector, he said the government is also looking to “tap agricultural technology from China to rev up” the sector. — Beatrice M. Laforga